Military families move around a lot. My dad was a U.S. Air Force pilot and I lived in three different countries and five different states before I was 16. Obviously, that can complicate employment opportunities for military spouses.
Second Lady Karen Pence and the Trump White House are raising awareness on how occupational licensing laws are a hazard for the job prospects of many military spouses. Pence is meeting with governors and military leaders to push reform. That’s an important issue in North Carolina where there are quite a few military bases. Not only that, but Ft. Bragg is one of the largest military bases in the entire world. In 2017, there were over 91,000 active duty members in North Carolina alone.
According to the White House:
Today, approximately one third of military spouses work in fields that require a state-issued professional license or certification in order to practice their professions. Additionally, military spouses move on average every two to three years and those frequent moves and state licensing change requirements have led to significant expenses, lost wages, and gaps in employment.
North Carolina licenses nearly 200 occupations, including hair braiders, locksmiths, and egg dealers. Many of these requirements are burdensome obstacles to employment. If somebody is qualified and possesses the needed skills to perform the job; licensing fees, certificates, and redundant and costly training shouldn’t be a barrier to work. North Carolina should at least follow the lead of Arizona which is the first state in the nation to offer a universal licensing recognition law that recognizes out-of-state occupational licenses.
Interestingly enough, the White House claims in their release that the U.S. Air Force will now consider a state’s occupational licensing laws before making any decisions about new base locations.
In the midst of this pandemic, there is no doubt that state governments should be a partner in incentivizing employment instead of clinging to outdated policies that protect bigger and established businesses from competition.